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Get involved in NEHW - it's simple, easy and best of all FREE!

With just six weeks until the start of National Eye Health Week 2015 organisers are urging healthcare professionals to get involved and help inspire the public to take better care of their eyes.


David Cartwright, Chair, National Eye Health Week comments: “There are lots of ways individuals and organisations can participate in the Week and encourage everyone to have regular sight tests and make simple lifestyle changes that benefit their vision and eye health.


From signing up to the National Eye Health Week Twitter Thunderclap – an automated tweet which will be posted simultaneously on all registered Twitter accounts at 11am on 21 September – to using our supporter resource pack materials to reach out to your local community, taking part is easy and best of all free.”


A range of new supporter resource materials will be published on the Vision Matters website later this week, including flyers on men’s and women’s eye health; an Amsler grid and guide to dry eyes. Updated editions of the existing National Eye Health Week supporter resources will also be published.


Many supporter events have already been planned, including the RNIB ‘Eye Pod’ visiting Sutton High Street as part of an eye health awareness event organised by RNIB, Sutton Vision and the Thomas Pocklington Trust.


A numberplate challenge hosted by The Village Opticians in Prestwich a ‘Look After Your Eyes’ event at Harrogate Library and a spectacle cleaning station run by Browetts Opticians in Warwick.


For those still undecided about how they will celebrate National Eye Health Week an event handbook has been published on the Vision Matters website.


More details about the National Eye Health Week campaign will be released over the coming weeks in the meantime though here’s a short checklist of things you can do to prepare for the UK’s biggest celebration of vision and good eye health.


1) Help get eye health trending on Twitter by joining our thunderclap. Sign up with your Twitter and Facebook accounts at


2) Show your support by tying a National Eye Health Week twibbon to your Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels. For information visit


3) Register for your FREE supporter resource pack by sending your name, address and email details to


4) Set a date, plan your event or promotional activity and register it on the Vision Matters website


5) Post announcements about your plans on your website and social media channels. Use the hashtags #EyeWeek and #VisionMatters.


Published : 10 August 2015



Vista - the official National Eye Health Week magazine

National Eye Health Week has announced plans to publish a second issue of it's official magazine, Vista.

Edited by experienced consumer health journalist, Rachel Symonds, with contributions from leading healthcare experts, Vista 2015 will bring together an inspiring and eclectic mix of important eye care advice designed to take readers on a fascinating journey of discovery to improved eye health.

News and feature stories will include insider style tips on how to look good and see well; beauty secrets to keep even the most sensitive eyes feeling fresh and bright; hi-tech eye care solutions and fabulous food and drink recipes.

Plus, there will be fun things for kids to do and mind-boggling eye facts.

For more information about advertising and promotional opportunities email or download the 2015 media pack.

Visat Maedia Pack Cover 2015

Vista Media Pack 2015


Published : 18 May 2015

National Eye Health Week Calling

Organisers are urging practitioners to get involved in National Eye Health Week 2015 as they unveil plans for the UK’s biggest celebration of vision and eye health.

This year’s event, which is free to participate in, takes place between 21 – 27 September 2015 and will once again focus on a different theme each day of the Week. Daily topics will include: You and Your Eye Health; Nutrition and the Eye; Technology and UV Protection.

The Week will launch with a day full of activities designed to challenge people to stop and consider how healthy their eyes really are and what steps they should be taking to improve and protect their vision and eye health.

David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week explains: “The latest Health Survey for England[1] highlights a real disconnect between people’s perceptions of their eye health and the stark reality with one in five respondents[2] who rated their eye health as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ admitting that eyesight limits their activities at least sometimes. As part of our You and Your Eye Health campaign we want to inspire people to take better care of their eyes and enhance their everyday lives.”

The Nutrition and the Eye day will see the launch of more exclusive recipes and some simple food swaps that can help give people’s vision a boost whilst the UV Protection day will illustrate the increased dangers of UV radiation around the Autumn Equinox[3] and the Technology day will highlight how modern and future technologies can impact our eye health.

David Cartwright continues: “Focusing on a different daily theme gives us the opportunity to continually refresh our communications and reach out to some of those groups most at risk of avoidable sight loss. Reminders about the importance of regular sight tests will be a constant thread running across our diverse range of activities.”

Eyecare practitioners, pubic health professionals, GPs and pharmacists are also being encouraged to join more than 2,000 other individuals and organisations lending their support to this year’s campaign.

Taking part in the Week is simple, easy and, best of all, free. Anyone wanting to get involved can register for a free resource pack on the Vision Matters website

Supporters will also receive regular e-news bulletins with hints and tips on how to raise awareness of eye health issues within their local community.

Opportunities still exist for corporate supporters to become official National Eye Health Week Partners. Contact for more information.

[2] Aged 16 and over with any difficulty with close/distant vision
[3] The 2015 Autumn Equinox occurs on Wednesday 23 September


Published : 11 May 2015

Leading eye health experts warn eclipse viewers put sight at risk



Leading eye health experts warn eclipse viewers put sight at risk

Schools and workplaces urged to pass on information to pupils and staff to prevent eye damage


Leading Eye Health Experts[1] have issued a public health warning about the dangers of looking directly at the Sun during the solar eclipse on 20 March 2015.


The magnitude of Friday’s eclipse, which will see between 82 per cent and 98 per cent of the sun obscured over the British Isles, has not been witnessed in the UK since August 1999 when a number of people suffered retinal damage as a result of looking at the sun – some of them for only a matter of seconds[2].


Looking directly at the sun, even for a moment, can lead to irreversible damage to the eye, solar retinopathy – a photochemical reaction that damages and destroys the light receptor cells that enable us to see. The symptoms of solar retinopathy, which may not become apparent for hours or even days after exposure to the Sun, include a black spot appearing in the centre of your vision, light sensitivity and reduced visual acuity. There is no specific cure for the condition, which in severe cases can lead to permanent sight loss.


David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week, a campaign for the prevention of avoidable sight loss, explains: “Anyone looking directly at the sun during the eclipse risks causing permanent damage to their eyesight so we are urging people to enjoy this rare cosmic event by viewing it indirectly. We are also calling on schools and employers to share information about how to view the eclipse safely. Children are particularly susceptible to damage because the lens of a child’s eye allows 70 per cent more light to reach the retina than in an adult[3]. Many parents will be on the school run when the eclipse begins so its vital they are equipped with sound advice about how to observe this spectacle.”


The fact that the Sun may seem ‘dim’ during the eclipse does not mean it is safe to look at with the naked eye, sunglasses, smoked glass or optical instruments such as binoculars, telescopes or cameras.


The only completely safe way to view the eclipse is indirectly. You can do this using a simple homemade pinhole card.


Just take a piece of stiff card and pierce it with a pin. Stand with your back to the Sun, and hold the card up. Then, carefully adjust the angle of the card until an image of the Sun is projected. You can project the image onto the ground, a wall or a second piece of card.


Alternatively, you could use an ordinary kitchen colander to project an image of the Sun. This is great fun for kids as you can project multiple images at the same time!


It is possible to purchase special eclipse viewing solar filters, although it is vital to ensure that any filter you use is specifically made for solar observation, carries a CE Mark and that it is not scratched or damaged. Make sure you hold the special filter firmly over both eyes BEFORE looking up at the Sun, and don’t remove it until AFTER looking away. The Sun should look quite dim and the sky should be completely black - if this is not the case then DO NOT USE THE FILTER.


If you are in any doubt about eye safety you can watch the eclipse on one of the many live webcasts being broadcast from countries along the path of the eclipse.


Visit for accurate eclipse viewing times across the UK.


[1] National Eye Health Week is supported by organisations and charities including : The College of Optometrist, The Association of Optometrists, Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians and Fight for Sight.


[2] British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit. In 39% of patients presenting to hospital ophthalmologists after the 1999 eclipse, the time spent looking at the eclipse was reported to be less than 60 seconds


[3] The Vision Centre, Los Angles Children’s Hospital

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - Smokers Urged To Quit For No Smoking Day 11 March 2015


Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Optometrists today warned that the relationship between smoking and sight loss is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer and urged smokers to quit for No Smoking Day (11 March 2015)[1].


According to research published in the British Medical Journal[2] as many as one in five cases of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness, are caused by tobacco consumption. This means smoking is currently responsible for 120,000 cases of AMD[3].


David Cartwright, chair of National Eye Health Week explains: “Despite there being a stronger link between AMD and smoking, than lung cancer and smoking Britain’s ten million smokers are largely unaware of the dangers. Fewer than 10% realise smoking can affect their eye health. This compares to 92% associating smoking with lung cancer and 87% identifying a link between smoking and the risk of heart disease"[4].


Smokers are three times more likely to suffer AMD than non-smokers and are likely to suffer from the condition earlier than non- smokers.


The average age for a non- smoker to develop AMD is 74.4 years of age. This is five years later than smokers whose average age is 69.2 years. Smokers are also likely to experience a more rapid progression of AMD and poorer treatment outcomes.


Tobacco smoke is composed of as many as 4,000 active compounds, which can damage the delicate surface and the internal structure of the eye.


Smokers are also at increased risk of other eye conditions such as nuclear cataracts; thyroid eye disease; dry eye and poor colour vision.


David Cartwright comments: “Having regular sight tests, once every two years unless advised otherwise by your optometrist, is vital for everyone but never more so than for smokers. Early detection of conditions such as AMD is essential to prevent avoidable sight loss.”


However there is some good news – if a smoker stops smoking the risk of losing sight decreases over time so the sooner they stop the better for their vision.


Download the National Eye Health Week Smoking and Sight Loss leaflet for more information about smoking and sight loss.


Smoking and Sight Loss Leaflet



[2] British Medical Journal, Vol. 328, S. 537

[3] Calculated using Macular Society AMD prevalence data

[4]Perceptions of blindness related to smoking: a hospital- based cross-sectional study, G Bidwell et al.


Published : 9 March 2015


National Eye Health Week 2014 Evaluation

Thanks to the amazing work of thousands of organisations and individuals we were able to highlight a range of eye health issues to millions of people as well as key opinion-leaders and parliamentarians during National Eye Health Week (22 – 28 September 2014).

To help us evaluate this year's campaign in more detail and begin planning for future National Eye Health Weeks we would like to invite you to complete a short evaluation questionnaire.

NEHW 2014 Evaluation Questionnaire

The online questionnaire will close at 6pm on Friday 7 November.

Thank you in advance to everyone who takes the time to feedback their views and experiences.


Published : 23 October 2014



Save the date!

The sixth annual National Eye Health Week will run from 21  –  27 September 2015.


Further details of plans for the 2015 campaign and a range of exciting new ways you can get involved will be announced over the coming weeks.


For up-to-the-minute updates on the 2015 campaign plus all the latest eyes health news follow us on twitter @MyVisionMatters



Published : 23 October 2014

Play 'Eye Ball' for NEHW

The National Eye Health Week team has launched ‘Eye Ball' – a fun and interactive way to promote the importance of regular sight tests and highlight the link between vision and sporting performance.


Playing “Eye Ball” is easy...

Encourage your favourite sports star to keep their eye on the ball by ‘throwing’ (tweeting) the following…

Pls RT Research shows sporting performance is directly linked to vision. Are your eyes fit to play? #BookaSightTest #NEHW14

The sports star then ‘throws' (retweets) the advice to their followers.



Playing tip: don’t forget to add the sports star’s twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet


For example @TigerWoods Research shows sporting performance is directly linked to vision. Are your eyes fit to play? #BookaSightTest Pls RT #NEHW14



Published : 25 September 2014

Low Autumn sunshine spells danger for eye health

With the Autumn sun posing an increased risk to the eyes, National Eye Health Week (NEHW) and Boots Opticians have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and help prevent future, avoidable, sight loss.


As the sun crossed the celestial equator on the Autumn equinox (23 September 2014 02:29 GMT) the highest point on its trajectory reduced to just 40-degrees. David Cartwright, chair of NEHW explains how this impacts on our eyes: “When the sun is high in the sky our brow bone acts like a built in sun shade and prevents damaging UV light entering the eye. When the sun is low in the sky during Autumn months the total amount of UV radiation your eyes are exposed to dramatically increases.”


Cumulative UV exposure has been found to promote the onset of cataracts[1] and has been implicated in the development of a range of other eye conditions including photokeratitis, pterygium and macular degeneration – the UK’s leading cause of blindness.[2]


David continues: “One simple way you can tell if your eyes are in danger of UV damage is to look at your shadow. If your shadow is taller than you, you should protect your eyes using a hat, sunglasses or UV protective lenses.”


As part of a wider public health initiative to prevent future avoidable sight loss[3] and highlight the year-round risk of eye damage caused by UV radiation, NEHW has teamed up with Boots Opticians to launch Sunbeams.


The Sunbeams campaign will encourage schools to include sun safety within their child protection policies. It will also provide teachers with a range of Key Stage 1 learning resources which highlight ten simple strategies for staying safe in the sun and explain how doing things such as having regular sight tests and eating colourful fruit and vegetables can keep your eyes and vision healthy.


Ben Fletcher, Managing Director, Boots Opticians said: “Everyday protection from UV is vital, especially for children, who are more susceptible to eye damage[4]. Increasingly evidence shows the eye health risk of UV exposure - even on a cloudy day. We also know that most of our exposure to harmful UV happens before the age of 18 so it’s important to get eyes checked regularly. We hope our Sunbeam characters Ellen and Ravi will encourage kids and parents to take care of young eyes to minimise the risk of future sight loss.”


Children’s doctor and TV medic Dr Ranj is supporting the Sunbeams campaign. To view Dr Ranj’s vlog and for further information about the public health initiative plus children’s games and a host of fun activities visit


Sunbeams’ Ten Simple Strategies for staying safe in the sun

1. Protect your eyes whenever the UV Index rises to three or more5 – even on a cloudy day. (Over 90% of UV can transmit through the clouds).

For comfort you may also wish to wear eye protection on bright days when the UV Index is below three.

2. Wear sunglasses with a CE; UV 400 or BS standard BSEN1836 : 2005 mark – this ensures they provide adequate UV protection.

3. Never wear toy sunglasses. These offer little UV protection and can actually cause more damage because the tinted lenses dilate the pupil allowing more UV light to enter the eye.

4. If you wear spectacles, check your lenses provide UV protection.

5. Make sure your eyes and area around your eyes is fully covered. Large lenses and wrap-around styles provide the greatest protection.

6. Wear a hat, cap or visor for added protection

7. Sit or play in the shade

8. Stay out of the sun between 12pm and 3pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. Up to 50% of the total daily UV is emitted between these times!6

9. Never look directly at the sun, this can permanently scar the retina.

10. Remember the shadow rule…

… If your shadow is taller than you are your eyes are at greatest risk from UV exposure, as your brow bone no longer offers natural protection.


[1] Linetsky M, Raghavan CT et al. "UVA light-excited kynurenines oxidize ascorbate and modify lens proteins through the formation of advanced glycation end products: implications for human lens aging and cataract formation." Journal of Biological Chemistry, May 2014. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M114.554410

[2] UV and the eye, review of the latest research, Professor James Wolffsohn, Aston University, 2012

[3] More than 50% of sight loss is avoidable (Future Sight Loss Report, Access Economics, 2009)

[4] The Vision Centre, Los Angles Children’s Hospital


[6]Diffey BL and Larko O, Clinical climatology (1984)


Published : 24 September 2014

Don't be the Fall Guy!

Seventy five per cent of older people who suffer a fall as a result of poor vision had a visual impairment that was easily correctable*. So don’t be a fall guy – make sure you have regular eye examinations.

Everyone aged 60+ is entitled to FREE sight tests paid for by the NHS. You may also be entitled to a voucher towards any vision correction required. Ask your optometrist for details or visit for more information.


falls inllustration


* Jack CI, et al. Gerontology.


Published : 24 September 2014